Facebookathy (n). the act of showing that one cares about current events on social media but doesn’t do anything about it.
Okay. First and foremost, let me apologize in advance for anyone who is going to be offended by this post. I do not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, I’m not trying to be controversial, and I hope that anyone who reads this will read with an open mind. I’m certainly not trying to say that what I type here is how others should think- I’m wrong about a lot of things, a lot of the time. So please don’t get too mad.
Also, I’ve gathered the courage to write this after reading this article in The Atlantic.
The profile picture filters. The #hashtags. The reposts and shares. Does any of it really matter? Because I didn’t change my profile picture, does this mean that I am a bad person who doesn’t show their empathy or sympathy on social media? Because someone did change their picture, are they morally better than me? Do people just feel obligated to follow the trend of pretending to care about an issue because other people are pretending to care? I think the latter’s answer is yes.
Okay, maybe I’m being too harsh. I think we all care about the Paris attacks. And we all cared about #bringourgirlsback. We cared about the ice bucket challenge (but did we really? because I think a lot of people still don’t know what that was about). I think we all feel like we care about these things as far as a profile picture or status update goes. But I don’t think this low degree of caring really matters too much.
I can see the good in showing your solidarity with Paris and why it is important to spread awareness about issues, but there is only so much spreading you can do. Listen, I have never partaken in one of these social media attempts at empathy because I’m selfish. How I see it, if I’m going to care about an issue, then I need to really care about the issue. I can’t just superficially care. Because by just showing support on social media with my French filtered profile picture isn’t going to do anything. It isn’t going to send aid to any of the relief organizations helping the families of victims. It isn’t going to motivate me to send care packages to our Armed Forces who are bombing ISIS. It really isn’t going to do anything, other than allow me to express facebookathy.
Ok, ok, I know maybe some of you are working to send relief. Or you have friends and family in Paris and you want to show your American support. Maybe, and I hope this isn’t the case, you knew someone who was there. If I knew someone who was in Paris at the time of the attack, maybe I would feel the need to change my profile picture…. I don’t know. Maybe I’m being too harsh. But I think the strive to show empathy on Facebook is useless.
Social media is good for a lot of reasons. One being that you can meet people who care about the stuff you care about. I can see an event that needs volunteers and can go help. Or I can see a friend’s sister-in-law is going through chemo and has a GoFundMe page where I can donate. These are helpful things. These have action behind them. Taking two seconds to put a filter on is just that. It’s just changing your profile picture, and really, what’s that gonna do?